Those who won’t wear masks put us all at risk, but confrontation is not the answer | Eleanor Morgan

It’s easy to feel angry towards those who don’t follow Covid-19 guidelines. Yet empathy is the key to changing people’s minds

“I have asthma by the way,” a woman announced to me in my local cornershop this week. I hadn’t noticed her. She wasn’t wearing a mask; I was. “It’s OK!” I said, without a beat. She replied: “Just saying before you told me off for not having a mask.”

I wanted to avoid conflict in a small space. In truth, I panic seeing uncovered faces in shops. I, too, have asthma, but in my experience, wearing a mask for three minutes to buy tinned tomatoes has not been at odds with this. The woman in the shop bothered me, but it can be hard to feel that reasonable conversation is possible in such moments. She was poised for confrontation. I was knackered. What would a calm conversation have looked like?

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